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  • Rough Cutt – A Look Back at the Two Classic Records from these Underrated 80s Rockers!

    Rough Cutt recorded and released two albums with their classic lineup in 1985 and 1986, respectively.
    Rough Cutt recorded and released two albums with their classic lineup in 1985 and 1986, respectively.



    In the 1980s, there were countless bands out there trying to make it big. While several of these groups made superstars out of their members, many just never got the proper credit and were left behind. Rough Cutt achieved some modest popularity, but sadly, the group was nowhere near as popular or successful as they deserved to be.

    The group had close ties with Ronnie James Dio, and Dio’s wife Wendy Dio even managed the band and ran their fan club! Furthermore, she co-wrote some songs on the band’s first record. Despite having a great sound and putting out two phenomenal records, the group just never managed to get the audience that they deserved. Internal tensions following the release of the band’s second record resulted in vocalist Paul Shortino’s departure; he subsequently would become Kevin DuBrow’s replacement in Quiet Riot.

    The classic lineup of Rough Cutt that recorded the two studio albums is as follows:

    -Paul Shortino on vocals. Shortino is best known for the period that followed Rough Cutt, in which he briefly sang for Quiet Riot, appearing on their 1988 QR record. He also two appeared on two recent albums with King Kobra. Las Vegas rock and roll fans know him well these days for being one of the singers in the Raiding the Rock Vault classic rock tribute show.

    -Chris Hager on guitar. Like many Rough Cutt members, Hager was previously in Ratt in their early formative period. He has since rejoined Ratt vocalist Stephen Pearcy, and plays guitar in his solo band.

    -Matt Thorr on bass. Similar to Hager, Thorr was in an early Ratt lineup, and has since reunited with Stephen Pearcy, playing in his solo band. He has also played in the band Jailhouse alongside Rough Cutt bandmate Dave Alford.

    -Amir Derakh on guitar. Derakh would become better known in the 90s for being a member of the band Orgy.

    -Dave Alford on drums. Alford would later be known for playing in the Rough Cutt offshoot band Jailhouse, which also included Thorr.

    Other members of the band prior to the album releases included Jake E. Lee (later of Ozzy Osbourne’s band and Badlands) and Craig Goldy and Claude Schnell (both later of Dio). The group tried to stay afloat with Parramore McCarty (of Warrior) on vocals following Shortino’s departure. An attempt by Shortino to revive the band in the early 2000s included Sean McNabb (Dokken, Quiet Riot) and Jimmy Crespo (Flame, Aerosmith).


    Rough Cutt's self-titled debut album was released in 1985, produced by Tom Allom (Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Y&T).
    Rough Cutt’s self-titled debut album was released in 1985, produced by Tom Allom (Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Y&T).


    Rough Cutt’s first album, produced by Tom Allom, was released in 1985. Generally rawer and heavier than the follow-up released the next year, this is my preferred release of the two. Many classic tracks help this album to stand out and make it one of the best rock albums released in the Decade of Decadence. Opening cut “Take Her” is a phenomenal hard rocker that does a great job getting the listener’s attention. We even get a hard rock style cover of “Piece of My Heart,” the classic 60s tune popularized by Janis Joplin. A true standout cut here is “Dreamin’ Again,” one of the best ballads recorded in the era; it is criminal that this song was not a bigger hit. One of the greatest strengths of this record is its raw and heavy nature; these guys tend to get lumped under the “hair band” umbrella but this album rocks harder than many of its era. There is not a weak cut here.


    Wants You is the second and final Rough Cutt studio album. It was produced by Jack Douglas (Cheap Trick, Aerosmith).
    Wants You is the second and final Rough Cutt studio album. It was produced by Jack Douglas (Cheap Trick, Aerosmith).


    Wants You, the second record from the band, is a considerably more glossy and commercial affair, with Jack Douglas in the producer’s chair. I will be the first to admit that this is the lesser of the two releases, but it is still a more than worthy effort that makes me wish this band had made it bigger. Opening cut “Rock the USA” is a hard, heavy and fast cut that is amongst the band’s finest, and they could not have kicked things off in finer form than this! Throughout the release, the band still manages to serve up their share of solid tunes, fast and slow alike. The first record has more memorable standout tracks, but that is not to say Wants You is a weak effort by any stretch of the imagination!

    The original CDs of these albums are long since out of print, however a twofer CD is available that combines both albums onto a single CD, allowing you to get them in a single purchase. This disc is highly recommended if you are curious about the band.

    Outside of these two albums, there have been a few posthumous releases from the group, including a two disc Anthology set that has unreleased live and studio material alike. There is also a separate live CD that was issued in the mid 90s with some bonus unreleased studio tracks. An EP was released from the early 2000s attempted revival of the band, but the availability of these aforementioned releases is questionable; they are most likely out of print.

    Rough Cutt is a criminally underrated band, and it is a shame that they never got the widespread fame and recognition that they deserved. Both of their albums have finally been reissued in a twofer, so this could very well be the best time for you to pick both of them up in one convenient place. These classic hard rock tunes are well worth rediscovering! Highly recommended releases if you can track them down.



  • Maiden England ’88 – Witness Iron Maiden Live on the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son Tour!

    Maiden England '88 features a November 1988 concert from the band's iconic Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour.
    Maiden England ’88 features a November 1988 concert from the band’s iconic Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour.



    1988 was a peak year for Iron Maiden. In the years leading up to that point, following the mass success of the hard rock classic Powerslave, Maiden began embarking upon a more experimental and epic direction. Hell, these guys could have released Powerslave a million times over and fans would have eaten it up. But that was not enough for these classic metal superstars. Incorporating new musical elements and themes into their music, including keyboards and synthesizers, the group released Somewhere in Time in 1986 and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son in 1988. These albums marked a creative peak for the band, and would be their last with guitarist Adrian Smith, until he reunited with the band circa 1999.

    While the experimental direction of these albums did earn the band their share of detractors, they had far more supporters, who applauded them for moving in a more progressive direction and becoming more inventive with their music. The Seventh Son Tour was one of the band’s most monumental undertakings to the time, and stands as one of the band’s most epic series of shows. Maiden England ’88 is a live DVD chronicling the live spectacle of this tour.

    One of the greatest strengths of the concert contained on the Maiden England ’88 DVD is that it is NOT merely a “Greatest Hits Live” concert. The emphasis is largely on tracks from the then most recent studio effort from the group, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, but the group also plays deep cuts from their earlier albums. Where else are you going to hear a song like “Still Life” done up in a live setting? Curiously, there are no tracks from the legendary Powerslave record, but there are more than a few Maiden discs out there that have superb live renditions of those cuts, namely the Live After Death concert from 1985, which got a DVD release a few years prior. The new release also restores some tracks that were omitted from earlier releases of this concert, including a series of encores. Maiden fans will find this to be one of the best home video releases by the band of their vintage live material.

    Sadly, the video quality on this release does not live up to that of the Live After Death DVD released a few years prior; I suspect this may have been shot on video tape rather than film, as parts of it tend to look fairly soft throughout. That is not to say the picture quality is bad by any means, though. Audio is exactly what you would expect from a Maiden release, loud and up front, taking you by storm from the moment you begin viewing and listening.

    As with many of the other recent live Maiden DVD releases, this one gives the viewer a number of supplements. The History of Iron Maiden series continues with a third installment, though this one tends to feel rushed in comparison to the first two installments, and covers a less comprehensive and lengthy time period than either prior episode. Oh well, it still has me excited for the inevitable Part Four! The vintage 12 Wasted Years documentary, never given a DVD release, is included here as well, and while much of the content contained within this doc have since been rendered obsolete by releases of the source material on other Maiden discs and the History of Iron Maiden docs, it is still a nice vintage Maiden documentary that fans will want to watch; there is still some content here unavailable elsewhere and that alone makes it worth revisiting. Rounding out the supplement package are the music videos from Somewhere in Time and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. I wish the band had included some additional live material from the Somewhere in Time tour as a bonus (apparently not much of that footage actually survives; some can briefly be witnessed in the docs) but that is a small gripe in an otherwise excellent release.

    Overall, Maiden England ’88 is going to be a great addition to the collection of each and every Iron Maiden fan out there. The flaws in this release are negligible; no fans should be disappointed with what they get in this package. Up the Irons!



  • Peace Out – Matthew and Gunnar Nelson are Back with a New Studio Album!

    Peace Out is the latest studio record from Nelson.
    Peace Out is the latest studio record from Nelson.



    The sheer talent of the Nelson Family is undeniable. With the release of After the Rain in 1990, Matthew and Gunnar Nelson demonstrated beautifully that they were keeping the family name alive and bringing their own share of talents to the music world. As the sons of Ricky Nelson and the grandsons of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, their contributions officially gave the Nelson Family a world record for being the only family to have number one recording status in three generations!

    The Brothers Nelson have come a long way over the years, keeping their Nelson Band alive, but also performing shows in which they pay tribute to their late father. Peace Out is the latest studio album from Nelson, and their first of original studio material in several years. Over the years, the two have proven themselves to be surprisingly musically diverse, even if they never quite recaptured the mainstream momentum and popularity that their 1990 debut brought them.

    In recent years, things have been fairly quiet on the Nelson Brothers forefront, aside from some archival releases, so this fan was ecstatic to hear that the band had a brand new studio album of original material coming out! How does the latest studio effort from Matthew and Gunnar measure up? Is this a pathetic attempt to recapture the spark of their glory days, or something that keeps the band relevant and interesting, while staying true to themselves?

    Thankfully, in this case, the latter is true. After the Rain is the album everyone remembers Nelson for (and likely always will) so it is a shame that an album like this is likely not going to get the credit it deserves. From power pop to harder rock and even a few slower tracks, the Brothers Nelson have crafted an album that is diverse and rocks from start to finish. One of the greatest strengths that the twosome has is their diverse musical background; something that is especially evident considering the musical involvement their family has had in past generations. From more modern to classic sounds, there really is a little bit of everything here. They also score major points with this rock and roll fan for not simply trying to copy all of the Top 40 bands out there; a mistake all too many classic artists have been falling victim to in recent years. Yet Gunnar and Matthew Nelson continue to create music that is every bit the equal of their classic album releases. Any fan of the group will find more than a few standout tracks here, and find the record to be a worthy addition to their catalogue.

    Matthew and Gunnar Nelson are still going strong in their musical endeavors, and it is great to hear an album like this keeping their legacy alive. Fans who have been following Nelson since the beginning will find Peace Out to be a more than worthy addition to their musical catalogue. Very highly recommended!



  • The Purple Album – Whitesnake Revisits David Coverdale’s Deep Purple Classics!

    The Purple Album is Whitesnake's latest release, featuring rerecorded versions of songs David Coverdale recorded with Deep Purple from 1974-1975.
    The Purple Album is Whitesnake’s latest release, featuring rerecorded versions of songs David Coverdale recorded with Deep Purple from 1974-1975.



    Over the years, Whitesnake has become one of the leading names in classic hard rock. Founded by former Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale, and featuring an ever-changing array of the most talented players in the rock and roll world, the group scored some major hits in the Decade of Decadence, and remains a force to be reckoned with throughout the music industry, still recording and touring the globe on a regular basis.

    Coverdale clearly wanted to forge ahead and make a standalone name for himself as an artist, away from the Deep Purple days of old that he was a part of. But, at long last, he has chosen to pay homage to this early formative period of his career in the form of The Purple Album, a collection of rerecorded songs from those legendary three Deep Purple records that he was a part of.

    Even to this day, Whitesnake’s lineup has continued to change on a regular basis, but they have continued to get the best names in the rock world in their corner. In their current lineup, the group features artists like former Night Ranger guitarist Joel Hoekstra, former Ozzy Osbourne drummer Tommy Aldridge (himself a member of Whitesnake back in the late 80s/early 90s), and Winger/Dokken guitarist Reb Beach. The Purple Album marks Whitesnake’s 12th full length studio effort.

    There are many reasons for artists to go back and rerecord their material, and it has become all the more common with a number of aging rock groups in recent years. David Coverdale has an interesting and lengthy history dating back to long before he formed Whitesnake, and it is good to see him revisiting and rerecording these standards. But how do these versions of the songs shape up? Should you pick this release up, or stick with the originals?

    Essentially, the good majority of The Purple Album takes these Coverdale-era Deep Purple tunes and reinvents them in a more straightforward hard blues rock style. Gone are the organs and keyboards, and in are harder, heavier renditions that actually sound like they would have been right at home on any one of the more recent Whitesnake releases. The current version of Whitesnake is one of the strongest lineups they have had in years; it is great to have Tommy Aldridge back behind the drum kit, and the always impressive Reb Beach absolutely tears things up from start to finish. In terms of musical ability, there is no question as to the prowess of the musicians here.

    The songs themselves are very good overall, and this fan is glad Coverdale and company did not simply rerecord the originals, note for note, verbatim. Are these better than the originals? No, but the new versions definitely have their own charm and appeal to them. The more straightforward hard rock direction works wonders for a number of these tracks, and the acoustic, slower numbers are surprisingly impressive. The lack of keyboards and organs is something of a disappointment; the late, great Jon Lord is the one who really left the greatest stamp on the original versions of these songs, and this release is lacking mostly in that area. That said, though, I doubt any fan of Whitesnake, David Coverdale, and/or Deep Purple will be disappointed in what they hear here.

    Overall, The Purple Album is an interesting collection of rerecorded versions of old Coverdale-era Deep Purple songs, which are a lot of fun for any fan to revisit. That said, the songs do not top the originals, but are appealing in their own way, with a sound that more resembles that of the newer Whitesnake records. While not a perfect release (there are a few Coverdale Deep Purple tunes missing here that should have been rerecorded too) it still comes highly recommended to any fan.



  • Reflections in a Rear View Mirror – Mark Slaughter is Back, with His First Solo Album!

    Reflections in a Rear View Mirror is the first solo album from Slaughter vocalist Mark Slaughter.
    Reflections in a Rear View Mirror is the first solo album from Slaughter vocalist Mark Slaughter.



    Mark Slaughter has had one of the most interesting careers in the entertainment industry. First coming on to the scene in the mid 1980s as a singer in the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, he ascended to rock and roll fame in the early 1990s with his eponymous band, Slaughter. Even after the coming of grunge and alternative rock, Slaughter found himself busy as a voiceover artist, and doing a number of other things. Slaughter the band is still very much active and touring, but recently, our friend Mark embarked upon a new musical journey.

    Reflections in a Rear View Mirror is the first solo album from Mark Slaughter. With Slaughter himself playing the majority of the instruments on the record, and with mixing and mastering work from the legendary Michael Wagener, expectations have been high on all fronts.

    The whole “time to do a solo album” thing is becoming widespread amongst musicians from the same era and scene as Mark Slaughter. These solo albums from classic artists tend to be hit and miss. We have not gotten a new Slaughter album in quite some time, so this fan was eager to hear something from the group’s iconic frontman.

    This fan is pleased to report that, despite initial skepticism, Reflections in a Rear View Mirror is a surprisingly good album! Here he has created a record that gives fans the best of all worlds. Many of these tracks feel like they would not be out of place on a Slaughter band album, but we get far more as well. There are hard rockers with a more modern vibe, power pop-flavored tunes that a band like Cheap Trick would be proud of, a duet with a female vocalist, and even an epic closer. Fans of Mark Slaughter are going to find a lot to enjoy here, and will find themselves pleasantly surprised by this release. Slaughter manages to diversify his musical sound and horizons without falling into that all too common pratfall of trying to copy Top 40 hits. And this fan’s hat goes off to him for that.

    Reflections in a Rear View Mirror is the first solo album from Mark Slaughter, and hopefully not the last thing we hear from him in a studio setting. Give this album a listen, and you will be pleasantly surprised by all that Mr. Slaughter has to offer the audience. Strongly recommended!